Sighing, I stand in frond of the shelf with all kinds of foreign meals. What am I going to eat again tonight? I can’t make complicated dishes and so the same thing happens every day. Every day I’m at the supermarket for a very long time to figure out what to eat again. I need daily errands on the bike because I can’t drag heavy bags. I already threw chicken into my basket. Actually chicken is the only meat I really like to eat. Desperate, I take my phone out of my pocket and press a hotkey.
“Heeee baby.” It sounds on the other side of the line. I smile
“Eline! I have a problem. “
“What’s going on?”
“What am I going to eat today?”
“Oh god, I really don’t know. I’ll help you! “
“Where are you?”
“What do you think! At the supermarket, off course! In the foreign-food shelf. “
“Ok! Stay there, I’m coming. I‘ll Be there in five minutes! Bye Bye!”
“See you!” I press the off button.
I can’t stand here like a fool for five minutes doing nothing. To do something I grab a pack with a dirty-looking dish from the shelf and start to read the back. Corn, peppers, onions. Gross, all things I would never put together in one meal. Eline is my best friend. She eats at least once a week with me because I live alone and I usually eat on my own. If not then Marlou Eline, Tessa and Liset are with me. A boy who works at the kwiksave gave me a weird look. Maybe because I have stared more than three minutes to the same package of this gross corn dish I’m reading. “Can I help you?” He asks hesitantly. He looked very cute.
“What are you looking for?”
“I need nothing. I’m waiting. “
“Are you waiting for your boyfriend?” Slowly I lift my left eyebrow.
“Okay.” The boy starts to blush.
“Niall!” A man in a suit screams. It appears to be the supermarket manager. The boy, who apparently is called Niall. Turns around slowly.
“Yes sir?” He says cautiously. I look at him again. The red kwiksave shirt that he needs to wear is too big for him. He’s quite small and the side of his hair is dyed brown and the top light-blond. This sounds very strange and retro but it suits him very well.
“How often should I say not to stare at the food!” The supermarket manager who according to his nametag is called :’Jacob Big.’ Stares at Niall with his angry look. A laugh escaped my lips when I read his name, especially because he is very small and fat and his last name is ‘Big’. The man looks at me strangely. Then he turns back to Niall.
“I was not staring at the food!” Now Niall sounds a little angry.
“You were certainly not doing your job!” Jacob thinks very much of himself with his black suit and golden plate with “supermarket manager” spelled on it. Well, well, then you really made it in your life. If you’re the manager of one of all kwiksave supermarkets in England.
“Sorry sir, that I got involved. But he was helping me.” Jacob looks surprised. Afterwards he tries to change the irritated look on his face into a forced smile.
“Sorry madam. I often disagree with this guy. “
“So, that’s not always his fault I see.” I deliberately put a big smile on my face. I see how he’s searching for words. A grin appears on Niall face. I give him a wink and walk a little further along the shelf. Leaving the supermarket manager behind overwhelmed. When is Eline coming? Suddenly I feel a hand on my shoulder. I turn around expectantly. But it’s not Eline, it is Niall. “Oh hey, Niall!”
“I wanted to say. Thank you! “
“Well, you helped me.”
“Ooo, that was nothing. But you’re welcome. “
“You know my name now, can you tell me yours?”
“If that makes you happy!”
“Yes, very happy.”
“Okay.” I grab his hand and shake it. “I’m Iris.” Behind Niall, Eline appears. She looks amazed but then she shows me her eyebrow move. “And that hot girl behind you is Eline, my best friend.” Niall turns around. Eline’s eyes are getting big.
“Eeeeeeehm, Hello? I’m Eline.” Eline is stumbling. I knew it.
“Yes, I’ve heard.” Niall laughs. I appear with my head behind Niall and look over his shoulder. “Eline, this is Niall!”
“Hi, Niall” Eline is blushing as they shake hands.
“Well Niall, we need to do grocery shopping. Good luck with work yet!” I give him a pat on his back.
“Yes, thank you!” As we rounded the corner all Eline can do is making unintelligible sounds. Still, I know what she’s saying. “Yes, he’s nice dear.”
“OMGADD, Nice? You mean AMAZING! Girls meeting NOW! “Eline grabs her phone and starts texting. We’re always having a girls night at my house when something interesting happened.
“Liset, Tessa and Marlou are coming!” She says after one minute . She already got three texts back.”But tell me, how do you know him?” She asks enthusiastically. “You really need to give me his phone number.” She puts a strong emphasis on need.
“I do not know him.” I tell her indifferent.
“I don’t know him.”
“Yes, I understood you, but why don’t know him. Why were you talking to him? “
“I don’t know, he asked if I was waiting for my boyfriend. I thought he was kinda cute so I just said something back. “
A small shout escaped her mouth. “He flirted with you!”
“Why would he flirt with me?”
“Why not?” Eline pulls her eyebrows.
“You know that. Have you ever seen such a pathetic person like me?”
“She walks besides you.” Eline puts her arm around me. “We are two pathetic people. But you are my pathetic person. “
“And you are mine.”
Eline starts singing. “We are two pathetic people. Two single Pringles, two pathetic people, two single Pringles!” All the people in the supermarket look annoyed. Eline simply continues with her own invented song. “We stay together forever, We will leave no we will never. We are two pathetic people. Two single pringels! “
“But when will Liset and the others arrive?” I interrupt her in her song.
“About half an hour.” Eline grins.
“WHAT? But then they’ll stay for dinner! Now I really don’t know what to eat. “
“We can eat.” Eline looks into my basket. “French fries, and chicken!”
“Okay, fries and chicken. You just grab the fries then I’ll take something to drink. “
“All right sir single pringle!” Eline shows a military gesture.
“I also get some Pringles!” I shout trough the shop.
Sighing, I plop down on my soft pink suede throne sofa with golden edges. On the bike, Eline spoke constantly about how she did not left her phone number to Niall. Until she realized that maybe I would like him too. If it was up to me, she could have him. They looked very cute together. Even though I found him really cute too. Eline plops next to me on my couch. She lays her head on my lap and her feet on the railing. “What a day.”
“Why?” I bend over and look Eline in her eyes.
“I think I met the cutest boy in the world.” I sigh.
“Eline, you don’t even know him.”
“So what. He’s just so handsome. “
“There are more beautiful people on earth, and he loves food very, very much. You hate food. “
“I hate don’t hate food. I hate nasty food. And to add something, you’ll still need some contrast in a relationship.”
“Relationship? Hey, you don’t know him, you don’t even got his number. “
“You’re right. But you’ll ask it for me, don’t you? “
“Iris? Why not? “
“You like him. So you need to ask it yourself.”
“But you’re much better at that kind of things.”
“How would you know? I am a single pringle remember? “
“Yeah so what, you’ve talked to him much longer.”
“Leave it. He loves you so much better. “
“Eline, you don’t know that.” But Eline’s cocky. She puts her arms around her chest and pulls an angry face. I laugh it off.
“Why are you laughing?”
“You should see yourself!” I still can’t stop laughing. “You’re just like a failed pharaoh in a tomb!”
“Well thank you!”
“Yeah baby, you really are with that grumpy face and your arms like that. You’re a mummy! “
“Yeah right! That’s why Naill don’t find me attractive.” Eline attracts a pout.
“You’re acting stupid, you don’t know that.”
“Why do you always jump to fast conclusions?”
“He asked you whether your boyfriend was waiting. In short, he asked: Do you have a boyfriend. “
“Yes, maybe he’s just interested. You didn’t even give him the change to talk to you, you were stuttering like crazy.” Eline puts her hands over her face.
“Yes, really bad.”
“Oh nooo! I must’ve looked like a fool? “
“No, it was very cute.”
“Okay, I hope you’re right.” At that moment, the door banged.
“Hellooooo” The voice on the other side calls. Quickly Eline jumped up. With an enthusiastic movement she opened the door. “Honeys!” She screams to the other side of the door. Immediately she gives all three of them a hug. Marlou steps in first.
“Wooow. What a headwind. We really have cycled twice as long. And then Liset and I had to wait a year with the bikes because Tessa wanted another skirt. “
“Yes, that other one was too tight! I had eaten too much!” Tessa calls as she runs to the couch. She plops down next to me and give me a hug.
“But Tessa! How can you have eaten too much? We’re going to eat fries with chicken! “
“Oh that’s good!” Tessa rubs her hands over her stomach. She takes my hand puts it on her belly. “Can you feel it? At the right is still a place for chicken and fries. “
“Yes, I can feel it Tess.” Now also Liset walks in I get up to give her a hug.
“Where’s the fries fryer?” Shouts Marlou, together with Eline from the kitchen.
“In the basement! But be careful that you don’t tilt it, that will screw up your shoes!” Eline has done that once. She just bought a new pair of shoes. She held the fryer a little crooked, suddenly everything fell out all about her new vans. That was really great sin! Fortunately, her parents would help her buying a new pair.
When everything is baked and fried we’re at my table enjoying the chicken with fries and applesauce.
“Shall we go out tonight?” I propose happily. Tessa pulls a sad face.
“What about me? I do not really fit in I’m 15. “
“Of course you do. I’m 18, Liset, Eline and Marlou are 17. If you say you’ve lost your ID, they really can not complain though. “
“No, indeed!” Eline agrees. “I always did and anyway, they really don’t expect you to be 15 when we we’re 17 and 18.”
“Okay okay! Then we go out.” Tessa says.
“Yes!” I shout in unison with Liset.
“Maybe Niall’s also going out!” I show Eline an eyebrow move. Immediately everyone wants to know everything about him.
“Well, Niall is a very handsome boy who works at the kwiksave.” Eline starts to tell.
After dinner, we watched mean girls, our favorite movie. Afterwards we’ve when our hair and make-up was done, we cycled towards the city. We put our bikes in the bike shed where the shed keeper gives us dirty looks. While laughing, we run into the cafe. We don’t need to show our ID. Not even Tessa. Probably the bouncer recognizes Eline and me. We go quite often. “I think it’s already fun!” Tessa shouts to make herself audible.
“It is fun! Who wants a drink?” I ask happily. Eventually I decided to buy anyone the same shot because I couldn’t remember the drinks everyone wanted. We store the content of the small bottle in our throats, I got it the fastest, after one second later Eline and the rest followed. I stick my finger down my throat like vomit gesture when I see a boy of primary school walking into the cafe. “Quick hide me!” I try to hide behind Marlou’s back.
“Heeee Iris” Shit failed. “Are you okay?” Danny comes closer and gives me three kisses. I pretend like I really like it all. Fortunately he immediately walks further into the cafe and I can just move on dancing. Eline and Marlou merge completely. Liset is talking with a guy and Tessa standing a little bit lonely. “TESSSS” I jump on top of her.
“IRIS MAN! You scared me to death. “
“Yes, but you should not stand there like a creeper,” I take Tessa’s hand and make all kind of strange dances. Tessa start laughing and follows my example. I think Liset have talked long enough to that boy. “Liset must dance now, bye!” I shout at him, I pull her arm so she turns around to all five of us, we’re complete. “Thank you!” Liset sounds released. Eline gets us another shot, and after fifteen minutes Marlou us gets another one.
“Time for Goldstrike” I scream while I’m standing at the bar.
“Hey what?” Tessa looks at me quizzically.
“Wait, come into the bar it’s a shot. I can not bring it to you. Than I would spill everything!” Everyone is standing at the bar. Eline and I laugh out loud, we are the only one who ever drank Goldstrike because I’m 18, I’m the only one who’s allowed to get it. Marlou and Liset usually take a less stronger shot.
I was ordering five shots at the bar, the bartender knows me by now. Our first meeting did not went so well. He always skipped me and I was already waiting for a long time, so I called out loudly HELLO! Afterwards he ignored me for two weeks and I had to ask other people to get me something to drink. Luckily he started liking me again and by now he knows I’m 18. Most people don’t believe that because I have a young face. The bartender puts five gold strike on the bar. Everybody takes their shot from the bar and Eline and counts down. While we turn him back. Liset, Marlou and Tessa pull funny faces. The first few times Goldstrike terribly burns your throat and gives a warm feeling in your stomach, which is quite logical because there’s 50% alcohol in it. “Aaaaah, what are you doing to me!” Marlou Calls.
“It burns my throat!
“But it tastes nice and cinnamon and it makes your belly feel warm.” Liset rubs her belly. Tessa is still recovering. Eline and I take another one, but this time Eline paid. Tessa Liset and Marlou take it easy. After that we’re all a little tipsy, especially Tessa. But Liset is getting close too. “Why did the mushroom go to the party?” She shouts trough the café. “Because he was a fungi!” Tessa screams after her. Everyone is clearly in a dent and other people stare at us. Liset is making a lot of stupid jokes and everyone is having a good time. We dance for a long time. My body feels very tired, but my head is telling me to keep on partying. After a while Marlou and Eline decide to look up a cute guy for me against my will. I decide to leave it and keep on dancing with Liset and Tessa. Then Marlou and Eline suddenly come back with a blonde boy with medium length hair. I look at them as stupid. “I’m a single pringle” I whisper to Eline. “No!” She shouts happily. The boy looks a little uncomfortable and shy. He shakes my hand. “Hi!”
“Hello!” I just decided to talk back, otherwise I would be rude.
“These two girls said you didn’t had good night because I wasn’t there.” Marlou and Eline seem to find this all very funny. Liset is laughing at me and Tessa is a bit of staring. I hit Marlou on her head and devote my attention to the blonde boy again.
“Well, actually I had a nice evening though. And you? “
“Yes, I actually do.” Okay, this conversation is very awkward. “May I ask your name?” The boy looks at me sweetly.
“Yes, you can ask.”
“Okay what’s your name?”
“My name is Iris.” I say smiling.
“Hi Iris. I’m Zac. “
“Hey Zac,” I started laughing about Liset, who’s raising her thumbs behind his back. Okay, she’s right, he’s handsome. But I did feel like meeting a boy tonight. “But Zac, my girlfriend Liset. Behind you. Would like to say something.
“Uh okay.” Zac takes a quick look back. “Can I get your number first.” I have a little doubt, but I decided to give it anyway. I don’t have to respond when he calls or text me. “If you buy us another shot you can get it!” I say with a big grin on my face.
“Oh you’re one of those girls?”
“No, not really but there must be something to stand against.”
“Yeah you’re right.” Zac goes to the bar and after a while he comes back with a shot for everyone.
I quickly give him my phone number and gesture that he should talk to Liset. Zac turns around and stands in front of her. I try to gesture: “You can have him.” To Liset. I know she’ll understand me. About half an hour she is talking to him. Until he finally goes home. It is 2 am. Liset is convinced that Zac is the cutest boy tonight. She can’t stop to talking about him. Today I met two handsome guys. Niall and Zac. I gave Niall to Eline and Zac to Liset. How sad am I?
At 2:30 am I’m very tired, I can see I’m not alone.
“Shall we go?” Everyone agrees. In crawl trudge we turn back to the bike shed where exactly the same dirty man is and he’s still dirty.
At home, we put air beds and mattresses on the floor. My bed is just in the corner of the living room. I only have a separate room for the kitchen with dining table and bathroom. I find it wonderful, to have my bed in my room. Now I can enjoy watching TV in bed and I can eat in bed when I feel like it. It’s also much nicer if you stay because then everyone fits together. Eline flops down on my bed. “I’m sleeping right here!”
“Sure you do, it doesn’t matter to me, I can even fall asleep on the floor.” Marlou says as she moves excessively slow. Everyone gets dressed quickly. Liset seems rather to have trouble getting out of her jeans. “TESS! You really need to pull my leg! “Tessa takes Lisets leg and pulls it back so hard she falls down on her ass. Everyone is in a dent and Liset heaves a sigh of liberation. “He he! I hate tight pants still on! “Quickly she shoots into her pajamas. Marlou is under her covers. “Guys, I’m gone. But first I need to say goodbye to my double chin! Bye!” She says before she closes her eyes. Everyone laughs. Marlou’s always making jokes about double chins. Eline and I sleep close to each other in our big oversized pajamas. Eline has loaned a pair of pajamas that look about the same only a different color with a different figure on it. We need to do this a lot more. It was really enjoyable. It’s just unfortunate that we can’t plan this evenings very often, we’re all so busy. It was very special everyone could come to me without nagging parents this time. I have no problems, from nagging parents. I wish I had only suffered from nagging parents. I can hear everyone is asleep. It’s time once again I go to sleep too. Gently I pull the blanket up further over my chin. I roll myself up like a tiny ball.
“Iris?” Sounds a voice beside me. Eline’s not asleep yet.
“Shall I apply to kwiksave?”
“Not a good idea?”
“No, not really, you come across as quite a stalker. But why don’t you go shopping with me again tomorrow? “
“Okay!” Eline is satisfied. With a smile on her face, she falls asleep. I string a strand of hair hanging in front of her eyes behind her ear and imagine what I would be without her. What would I do anyway without Marlou, Tessa, Eline and Liset. If I have not had them, I was a lonely creature, alone in the world. Like Remy. Right now I feel actually a Remy. I put my hand over my mouth when a yawn escapes, and while I think about how I can link Niall to Eline, I fall into a heavy sleep.
Liset and Tessa left early, they had a family party. Tessa and Liset are sisters but usually they behave more like best friends. Now Marlou is slowly rolling out of bed. “We need to do this a lot more!”
“Yes, I agree, I thought it was really fun!”
“Yes, me too!”
“Marlou, we’re going back to the kwiksave, maybe you should come!” “Then you can see Niall!” Eline enthusiastically jumps in the conversation.
“Yes, of course, he must be really great!” Marlou laughs.
“Yes, he is also very handsome. When you see him, you’ll faint!”
“Eline stop exaggerating.” I walk into the kitchen and put three croissants in the oven.
The doors of the Kwiksave are slowly opening. It’s too slow for Eline.
“Hurry!” She cries as she almost bumps into. We enter the store. Immediately a cold chill runs down my spine. I hate the temperature in supermarkets. The supermarket odor immediately penetrates my nose. Why do supermarkets always have a distinct smell? As I throw my groceries into my basket Eline runs around like a hysterical fool, looking for Niall.
“She really likes him, huh.” Marlou whispers as Eline is searching a little further.
“Yeah, of course, typical Eline.”
“What’s typical Eline?”
“Being totally crazy about a boy she don’t know. Just because he’s very handsome.”
“Yes, that’s typically Eline.” While laughing Marlou puts a carton of milk in my basket.
If everything I need is in my basket, I decide to help Eline find Niall.
“I can’t find him.” She cries desperately.
“Ask a colleague? Maybe he’s in break or something?”
“No, that’s too scary.” I sigh.
“Wait.” I walk into a boy with brown hair. “Hello I was wondering, do you know Niall?”
“Niall? Why do you need him?”
“I need to ask him something.”
“He isn’t working today.” He sais indifferently. Well, he isn’t really nice.
“When does he?” I put on my sweetest smile.
“Never.” I lift my eyebrows. The boy sighs. “He resigned yesterday.” Eline, who had been listening to our conversation, comes closer. Her face is shocked. “WHAT? Why?”
“He had an argument with the manager or something.”
“Do you maybe have his phone number? It’s quite important.” I look at the boy hopefully.
“No I’m sorry, I never spoke to him. You can have my phone number if you want.” He grins.
“No thank you.” I draw a discreet dirty face.
Eline isn’t exactly moving, I pull her sweater. “That’s not possible!” She says incredulously.
“Apparently it is darling, I can’t change that.”
“I know, you did your best.” I can tell by the look on her face she is very disappointed. Marlou pulls her close. “You’ll find him honey! He lives right here anyway.” Eline nods faintly. Without them noticing I throw a bar of chocolate in my basket. We’re going to need it later. I pay for everything in my basket and we slowly cycle home.
“I must go, my mom wants me to clean my room before dinner!” Marlou sais at the crossroads where we need to go left and she needs to go right. We say goodbye with a hug and then cycle further to my apartment.
Eline and I put all the groceries in the cupboards. Eline just knows where everything in my house is, except the fries fryer yesterday. “I can’t believe Niall has resigned.” Eline puts the final package of toasts in the closet and walks a little sad to the couch where she immediately drops herself. She looks like a death person. I grab two cans of redbull from the fridge and drop myself on top of her. “Honey, you’ll meet him again. It’s not the end of the world though. You shouldn’t sulk for a guy you barely spoke for five minutes.”
“But he was just .. Perfect. “
“How would you know, maybe he smokes? Or he’s addicted to drugs. Or maybe he has a girlfriend. “
“Yes you’re right.” Eline opens her can and takes a sip.
“I know!” I give her a kiss on the cheek and lie down beside her. It hardly fits. If one of us makes a wrong move, I’ll fall off the couch. “So, no longer think of him huh? We’ll see whether he’s destined. If he is, you’ll definitely meet him again, are you? “
“I hope so.”
I grab the remote from under Eline’s ass and turn the radio on. Summer of 69 sounds from the speakers and Eline immediately starts to sing loudly. I stand up and sing with her while jumping on the couch. Because I’m jumping Eline makes strange jerky movements because she’s still lying. She looks like a fish out of water. While laughing, I pull her up and together we jump till the song ends.
“I gotta go baby, I need to bring around the newspapers before dinner. I can’t do it tomorrow morning because I need to go to Grandma. “
“Ok, wait, I’ll walk with you.” I carry her out and give her a hug.
“Talk to you later!” She laughs as she gets on her bike. I watch how her hair get carried by the wind. How is it that Niall hasn’t asked her phone number. I mean, she’s beautiful even when she’s cycling. That’s really an achievement. I stay outside for a while, to actually look at nothing. It’s so nice. I feel a warm breeze caresses my face. I get back into my apartment and plop down on my bed. What should I do? I zap a bit bored among all radio stations. There is not a single nice song. I look at my pink cuckoo clock. I’m not hungry so I’m not going to make dinner already. My closet is staring at me, I calmly walk over there and pull out my sweatpants. I actually feel like some running. I grab my iPod from under my pillow and get out again. I stand still for a moment just to put on a nice running track and then I start to run.
I’m already tired after five minutes. I’m not in good shape anymore. I really need to do this more often. I decide to maintain another quarter, so about three songs. Fortunately there is a nice park near my house. A very handsome boy is sitting on a bench. He’s reading. I feel very tired but I’m trying my best to show my brightest smile as he looks up from his book. He smiles back friendly. As I run past him I still feel a pair of eyes burning into my back. I must have a funny ass when I’m running.
Panting, I step back inside my apartment. I feel bad, it really can’t hurt to do this every day and since it’s quite large park that’s easy. If I run trough the whole park I lose about fifteen minutes. When I do that twice I run half an hour every day. I think that’s enough. That running made me a little bit hungry. I put the pan on the stove and throw some baking butter and sliced chicken in it. It really don’t bothers me I’ve already eaten chicken yesterday. I switch to TV. I’ll have to wait until the pan on the stove is warm enough. Weary I lay myself down on the bed. I try to keep attention on the TV but my eyes slowly shut down.
I slowly open my eyes and shut them immediately. Something stings. A strange smell penetrates my nose. I smell something familiar. Fire! I smell fire. I get up quickly. Is there something on fire? I try to look but I can’t see anything. It’s too hard to keep my eyes open. In a panic I try to look around me. Where should I go? A cough escaped from my throat. It is getting worse. Smoke, smoke everywhere. Blanket, I had a blanket somewhere? But what’s on fire? I try to think back. What did I do wrong? Was I cooking something? The chicken, I forgot to take the chicken of the stove. My breath catches in my throat. I think I get no air. The bathroom, where’s the bathroom? I know that the most oxygen is on the ground. I’m on my hands and knees and try to crawl somewhere but I’m completely disoriented so I have no idea where I am. I touch the ground. The couch. I try to think where the couch is in the room and where I am right now, at this moment. It’s like the smoke has entered my head, and thrown away all my memories. I don’t even know where I am in my own house. I feel myself sinking. I feel like I’m taken by my soft carpet. My head is empty and the only sound I hear is my own breath. Why do I live alone? I long for my parents. I feel the anger flowing through my body. I’ve never been angry at my parents. They have abandoned me. They just left without me. Fortunately, they did it together. Who would have thought that I would be the only survivor. Everything gets back. The car smelled like a new car always do. I love that smell. I was 7 years and my mother sat beside me on the back. My dad drove and my sister really wanted to sit in the front. We played a stupid memory game. The flash of the headlights of the truck, I will never forget what it looked like. I hear the shout of my 9 year old sister again. It’s like I get sucked back in time. I feel the lifeless body of my mother pressing on me again. It’s awful. I try to push away but it only gets heavier. I can’t breathe. The last thing I smelled was my mother’s perfume. Now the last thing I’ll ever smell is fire. It hurts to cough. The last bit of air that I should keep is coming out all at once and therefore I feel like vomiting. I go back to the car, two arms, lifted me out slowly I felt the enormous pressure of my mothers body disappeared. But maybe I wanted to stay in the car, maybe I didn’t want to be saved by someone who saw it happen. Maybe I wanted to just stay with my parents and sister.
I realize that the arms who lifted me out of the car are not just a memory. Everything starts to spin. The last bit of life get sucked out of my body. I gasp for air. My head falls against something hard, something hard but there’s still life in it. It feels like a shoulder. I don’t have to think about it for a long time because everything becomes black.
I feel like a tire being pumped. The same awful feeling when you inhale helium from a helium balloon to get a funny little voice. The sensation of a huge bubble of air continues your throat and there’s nothing you can’t do. It’s like someone fills up my lungs with air, someone who didn’t want me dead. My whole life is falling down on me, everything I’ve seen comes back. My throat is as dry as it can be.
“Hey? Wake up.” Someone strokes my hair. Is it my mom? I try to recall her scent. Her face appears in my mind. I want to touch her but I can’t move. It shocks me when I feel that someone encloses my mouth with his lips. I try to talk but nothing comes out of my throat. I try to move but my body feels as dead as a doornail. My lungs fill with more air, it makes me sick. Stop it. Please stop it. I want to breathe through my nose but I can’t. Someone has pinched it. I feel my chest suddenly back up and down. I open my eyes and see a head at close range. Two green eyes staring at me. A boy sits over me and a smile graced his face. ”I’m so glad you’re alive! I suddenly saw smoke coming from your apartment, so I broke the door down.” The boy begins to blush. ”The ambulance and fire brigade are on their way.” I shook my head. No ambulance! It I’m all right? A nasty cough escaped from my throat. It hurts so much. The boy’s smile disappears and he looks at me anxiously. I try to tell him everything is okay but I think my vocal chords hate me. I just can’t say anything. My arms feel like spaghetti but I try to push myself up. The boy notices and I feel his arms around my waist. He’s helping me to get up. I know him. I try to think but it hurts.
“What’s your name?”
“Iris.” My voice sounds very hoarse but luckily it’s working.
“In case you want to know, I’m Harry.” He winks at me.
“Thank you Harry for saving my life.” Harry starts to grin.
“You’re welcome. It wasn’t that bad, to give you mouth to mouth.” I feel my head starts to glowing, to distract attention, I begin coughing really hard. Okay this is just another way to meet a boy.
“Who are you?” I’m curious.
“Where do I know you from?” I try to keep sentences as short as possible, talking hurts.
“I’m quite often in the park and today I saw you running, maybe that’s it?” In my head everything becomes clear. He was the handsome boy who was reading. I could feel his eyes burning into my back. A siren sounds in the distance. In a panic I look at Harry. With his hand he rubs my back and he pulls me close. My breath is stuck in my throat. ”Calm down, I’ll go with you.” Because I’m relieved my lungs know how to work again. I bury my head in Harry’s shirt and smell it secretly. Harry lays his head on my head, it gives me a feeling of protection. Fortunately, there are also people in the world who do not leave you. Harry gently rocks me back and forth. The sound of sirens are getting louder, it hurts my ears. Slowly everything starts to bargain to me. Then I start to cry. Softly, against Harry. He makes soothing sounds and strokes my hair. I am so glad he saved me.
The ambulance stops. I see the smoke slowly disappear and I realize that all my stuff is gone. I feel how my eyes are filled with tears. My photos. The pictures of my dad, mom and my sister. If they are burned or have become wet, I’ll never forgive myself. “It’s all right!” Harry Whispers in my ear. I don’t answer, the only thing I can do is shake my head. It won’t be all right. I let everything happen. Everyone is touching me and I am completely wrapped up, I also need a weird thing around my neck as a precaution. Ehm hello, if I had broken my neck, I would surely notice. I feel really a living roast with a double chin. I hear someone rant against Harry.
“I promised her I would go!”
“But you’re not family.”
“No. But I do not let her go alone. “
“Leave her to us. It’ll be okay. “
“No, I’m just going to point them out.”
“Young man, it’ll become too busy in the ambulance.”
“That’s a lie. Otherwise you wouldn’t ask if I was family. So when I’m family, I can go with you and it’s suddenly not too busy.”
“Go now go home. She is in good hands.” I hear Harry heave a deep sigh.
“I’m not going to leave my girlfriend alone in an ambulance with people she don’t know.”
“Yes my friend.” A shock goes through me. His girlfriend? What is he saying?
“You should’ve said that immediately! Come on.” I feel how they lift me and place me in the ambulance. A man with a bright yellow jacket asks me many questions but I won’t awnser. I close my eyes and try to make myself clear that this is all a big joke. This isn’t really happening. I’m dreaming. In an hour I wake up and it turns out I’m lying on my bed in my apartment. This is just a nightmare. Harry’s voice penetrates within my mind.
“Iris, shouldn’t we call your parents or something?” I open my eyes.
“I don’t have parents.” I see Harry is sincerely shocked.
“Sorry, but what did you say?”
“My parents are dead.” Harry doesn’t know how to behave, happily the man who’s also in the ambulance isn’t listening, otherwise he would probably found out Harry doesn’t really know me.
“I’m sorry!” He stutters.
“Doesn’t matter, you couldn’t know yet.”
“Can I call someone else?”
“Who is Eline?”
“Eline is my best friend. But please tell her nothing’s wrong otherwise she’ll be scared to death. “
“I will tell subtly! If that’s even possible.”
“Yes, you should try.”
Harry is holding my hand and smiles. I lying in bed under a hideous yellow blanket.
“Are you there again?”
“How do I suddenly end up here?”
“You fell asleep in the ambulance. They’ve brought here and you have two more days remain for investigation. It is too late now so they can’t start until tomorrow. “
“No, I do not want to be here. This is really terrible. I hate the hospital!” I look around panicked. I just want to sleep in my own bed. What if all my stuff is burned? Then I can’t go home anymore. The legacy of my parents and my student isn’t much. I can’t pay this all.
“I’ll stay with you.” A big smile appears on my face. I squeeze Harry’s hand and he squeezes back.
“You don’t need to stay! I mean I’m wasting your time. I’ll be all right.”
“I know I don’t need not stay. But I want to stay. “
“Why are you so nice to me? You do not even know me. “
“Good enough to know that I’m not leaving a girl like you behind in this boring hospital.”
“You’re sweet.” Harry smiled. I’m just leaning forward to give Harry a kiss on the cheek when the door of my room suddenly opens with a blow.
“IRIS! HOW ARE YOU?” I see Eline standing there and I want to cry. She jumps on top of me and put her arms around my neck. I smile and sniff her hair. Her familiar smell makes me feel better at the moment.
“Yes I’m fine.”
“Look what I’ve got!” Eline swings around with a prehistoric thing.
“My old Mp3! I just added some cool music to it. I mean like, hospitals are sooo boring! “
“Oh thank you! You really are my salvation in distress. “
“Yes, I know! I immediately wanted to run to you but the doctor called and said I could do easy because you were sleeping, so I thought, I can either bring a snack, or something nice. “Eline looks from me to Harry and back to me. “Sorry! I’m Eline. “
“Harry.” Eline and Harry shook hands.
“But Iris, what is exactly happened?” I give a pat on the bed next to me as a sign that she should sit. Slowly, I tell her the whole story.
“Will you please never do something that stupid again!” Eline is shocked. Her brown almond shaped eyes watching me intently. I shrug my shoulders.
“I’ll do my best.”
“Yes you will for sure, how could you forget about the chicken?”
“I was just so tired.”
“That’s no excuse, I want you from now, always watch what you’re cooking.”
“Yes, Mum.” I laugh.
“Yes, let that be very clear.” Eline strokes my hair, I pull her back to me and hug her tightly. I catch a glimpse of an uneasy glance at Harry. Without a doubt I involve him in our firm hug. Eline also seems to have no problems with it and save her arm around him.
“What an honor!” Harry laughs.
“That’s for saving Iris.” Eline gives a pat on Harry’s shoulder.
“Come here!” Harry looks at me in surprise but he stands up. I hint to him he should come closer but it’s not as easy with Eline between us.
“I’ll switch.” Eline crawls under Harry and sits down in his chair. A little shy, Harry takes place on my bed. “This is because you have saved my life.” I bow myself a little forward and press a kiss on Harry’s cheek. Behind him Eline smiles wide. She sticks her thumbs up and makes weird gestures. This makes me really think about the advertising of pokemon with two girls. One of them is playing pokemon and a guy named ‘paul’ is online on her ds Whereupon the other girl screams:, “oeeeee Paul.” in the most pretentious tone ever. The girl playing ds is now talking to Paul through the DS and Paul tells her he has caught the pokemon she wanted. The other girl holds up a note with: “Cute!” And she makes weird gestures just like Eline. I really hate that advertise. Eline does too. Harry smiles and blushes a bit uncomfortable. Where is the tough guy remained who did not mind me giving mouth to mouth resuscitation.
A knock on the door makes us all look up and see who opens it. A sister, who looks very nice with a Belgian accent tells us visiting hours is long over and it’s time I’m going to sleep. I need to get up early. Sighing, I give Eline and Harry a hug.
“I’ll call Marlou, Tessa and Liset tomorrow!” Eline sais while she’s still in the doorway and blows me a kisses. She walks away with Harry. The sister walks towards me. She looks young. “Hi I’m Cassandra and I turn the night shift tonight. So if there is anything you can call me.” I nod quietly. Cassandra presses a button on the bed. The upper part of my mattress drops back down. It feels weird to lie flat on my back. While laughing, I pick up Eline’s old Mp3 of my nightstand. It is an elongated silver thing with knobs instead of a touch screen. I put the earphones in my ears and put the Mp3’s on shuffle. I pull my blanket up to my chin. A nervous and uncomfortable feeling I can not suppress when John Mayer sings immediately at the first song slow dancing in a burning room in my ears. That is pretty strange. I quickly click through to the next song. My lips curl up as I softly hear the singer of Augustana singing. That man is really great. But the smile on my face disappears abruptly as I realize what I hear Augustana song “Fire.” In a panic I pull the earbuds from my ears. As if this helps. A tear slides down my cheek. I want my own stuff, my own bed, my own smell, my clothes, my own TV and my Ipod. I close my eyes and pull my knees up so high that they hit my stomach. I bury my head in the not so nice smelling hospital pillow. Every time I close my eyes they are filled with smoke. Angry, I sit up. What the hell is this nonsense. Iris, you’re going to sleep now. I encourage myself but it makes no sense. I let myself back on my pillow. Every time I think of fire or smoke I think to myself that I shouldn’t do that. My head is a jumble of a loud song to distract myself, a nagging and screaming voice telling me not to thinks about fire and a opinionated thought process that wants me to go back to the time of the fire and a picture of my house that’s on fire. I put my arms under my pillow. Suddenly I feel some kind of paper. Surprised, I pull it from under my pillow.
If you need me, you can always call me.
My number on the back of this paper.
Do not hesitate!
The jumble in my head now focuses on the crumpled piece of paper which is not completely white. One thought reads the text several times over, the other one on Harry’s handwriting, the image in my head is trying to imagine Harry’s face when he writes it and the last thought wants me to turn the paper quickly and look at the phone number. I listen to my last thought and turn the note. In my head I repeat the number. My phone is still in my apartment. My hand moves to the phone on my nightstand. I enclose the horn with my fingers, the smooth black plastic feels annoying to my sweaty hands. My fingers keys Harry’s number and also constantly pressing the button to hang up. Shall I call him? “Do not hesitate.” Sais the note. Of course I doubt. I can also call Cassandra. She seemed nice. I put the phone back in place and decide to philosophize all night long about if I should call Harry or not. That’ll keep my mind of fire and smoke. My body rolls itself up in a little ball. I put Harry’s note The back under my pillow. It’s as if I hear his voice through the pillow reading the text over and over and whisper it in my ear. It makes me calmer. I sniff the smell of the blanket and close my eyes. My mouth formed a smile. A new room meant many new things to smell!
When I wake up in the morning it’s all strange. I feel horrible. I’m not awake with the sweet smell of my own apartment but with a terrible hospital air. I allowed myself to not watch the time so I try to close my eyes again. I still can’t sleep after a while of tosses and turns. I get up in bed and take a look at the clock. It is 6:53 PM. A cough comes out above if I breathe deeply. I would not really know what time I get that lung research. Cassandra said early in the morning, but what does she think about early? I pick Eline mp3’s from the nightstand and watch it for a moment. I will try to listen to it again? I put the earphones in my ears again and press on the Mp3. When I hear Anna Nalick I close my eyes and I listen to the music. I let myself sit back and pull the blanket back up to my chin. With a smile I listen to her voice.
I’m scared out of my mind if someone pulls the earphones out of my left ear. With a scowl, I investigate how Cassandra is happy in frond of me.
“Sorry, but you need to get ready for research.”
“What do I have to do?”
“Maybe you should freshen up?” Nice, I’m so ugly that even the nurse who sees the most faded people wants me to go freshen up. Cranky I get out of bed. The floor is cold to my feet and shivers spread over my body. I step into the bathroom. I realize I don’t even have a toothbrush or makeup. I have nothing, no clothes, no pajamas, no clean underwear. How should I ever survive in this stupid hospital. Angry, I throw some water on my face. I open the bathroom door. Cassandra is still there.
“I have nothing.”
“What do you mean?” She looks at me quizzically.
“No toothbrush, no toothpaste, no underwear, no clothes, no pajamas!”
“Shall I call someone who can bring it when you’re in the examination?”
“Who should I call?”
“Eline, my best friend. She is number one in my contact list.”
“Okay I’m going to do that, another nurse will get you about fifteen minutes.”
“What examination will I get?”
“You get a tube in your mouth. That goes down through your windpipe into your lungs and there is a small camera at the end. So they can look into your lungs.”
“O my gosh no, I don’t want that!”
“Yes you will!”
“No, there is nothing wrong with me!”
“We have to be sure.”
“I am sure about one thing, I do not want a thing in my throat. It don’t bother me there’s something wrong, that will heal itself. Once I got a stomach examination because I ate some pills I liked. I also needed a hose down my throat to my stomach. That was the worst ever. So terrible that the nurses had to hold me with 7 while I was only 6 or 7. How sad is that. “
“But now you’re older, it’ll be probably less terrible.”
“No, I don’t believe that. I just don’t want to. I have been gagging at the idea. “Cassandra heaves a sigh.
“I’ll discuss it with the doctor.”
“Do that.” Cassandra disappears from the room. I’m going back to bed in that awful hospital pajamas and close my eyes. I’m actually still quite tired.